Photos and Words by Bri Garrett
What attracts most people to Dominican Republic is its crystal clear water and white sandy beaches. But if you ask me, it’s the food that makes this island a must-go travel destination.
I’m not talking about the buffet, all-you-can-eat, resort food where you’re provided with mediocre selections from a variety of different cuisines. I’m talking about true, authentic Dominican food that you can only leave the resort to enjoy.
Restaurant Luis, in Las Terrenas, is the kind of experience I’m talking about.
Luis wasn’t your typical restaurant. There were no fancy chairs, dining cloths, or centerpieces at our table. But even better: we were provided with front-row seats to the prettiest view that exists - the ocean. Luis sits literally right on the beach. So close that on days with high tide, the water might touch your feet as you’re enjoying dinner. When conversation stalled, we could hear the palm trees dancing to the breeze and the waves crashing at the coast. Talk about an ambiance.
Truly, though, it was the delicious food that my family and I were talking about weeks after we returned home. As a true foodie, memories of the amazing meals will remain embedded in my mind, even when other moments of the trip start to dwindle.
While deciding what to order, we chose to do family style in order to be able to try as much as possible on the menu. After a short deliberation, we decided on classic tostones (fried plantains), French fries, white rice, lobster, fish, and a side of salsa. One of the most unique aspects of our dining experience was that we were able to hand-select our table’s fish. This interactive process ensured that we were getting exactly what we wanted. Imagine going to the store and picking out what looks the best, but then having someone else prepare it for you. The best of the both worlds.
While our special order was being prepared, we were served piña coladas to sip and to help us cool off from the hot sun. I don’t know what was better – the fruity, creamy taste of the drink or the fact that it was creatively served in a pineapple. Props to Luis for unique presentation.
But to describe the taste of the food that eventually arrived at our table, “props” might be too light of a word. Out of the park, or in this case beach, would be better appropriate. We were expecting tasty, and we got it. But on top of that, we were pleasantly overwhelmed with the freshness of the seafood - a freshness I personally have never encountered in food back in the United States.
As a lover of tostones, I was addicted to the salty, crunchy flavor of this twice-fried plantain treat, which was a nice complement to the soft, buttery tenderness of the lobster and fish. Who needs butter? I usually would never dare to say those words, but this is an exception.
After devouring the seafood, I confidently moved on to the salsa and rice. The salsa was the perfect refreshing and tangy topping to the plain, white rice. I am a usually a “plain Jane” when it comes to my rice – I don’t enjoy beans or gravy’s – but again, Luis was the exception. With a mixture of tomatoes, herbs, onions, and other ingredients I could not identify, the salsa was like a party for the palate. It’s one of those dishes where you aren’t too sure why it tastes so good, but it just does. All I know is that I kept going back for more and more.
As a party of 12, my large family thought it would be hard to find a place that would cater to everyone’s tastebuds. But this gem of a place, along with various restaurants throughout the town of Las Terrenas, proved us wrong.
A true taste of a country can be just beyond the walls of your hotel. So go explore.